In which Spay Day is explained in text and photos (not icky/graphic)

Big props today to Dr. Michelle Delco, who not only headed up the surgery on Miss Dragon Pants today, she spent time after answering my questions and then more time answering my email queries!

Here's an account of Fiddle's Spay Day, start-to-finish, with most of the narration provided by Dr. Delco:

Fiddle gets her "pre-meds":  Banamine and antibiotics.  She also gets sedation before she goes into the stocks.  Note the upright ears and interested face.  This will haunt us later in the day.
 9:00am:  The dripline is installed, providing a steady infustion of 1) fluids 2) Sedivet infusion (sedation) 3) Butorphanol infusion (feel-good/happy drug.)  .  Ears still upright.
"Not a cheap date, mate."
 While waiting for the drugs to bring her ears to "airplane posture", the surgery site is cleansed again.
(Ears still upright, no sleepy pony yet)
scrubbed and shaved...again
 10:00am, she is outfitted with gear to minimize outside stimulus, including cotton balls in the ears, a drape over the eyes, and a soft blankie to catch the drool.  Ears are at "half-airplane."
"Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil"
 10:30am  Fiddle is "steriley draped" and ready to start...but airplane ears.  She's actually trying to look around!   They've given her more sedation, and waiting patiently for her to get sleepy.  Notice Dr Williams looking at Fiddle scornfully- you could imagine a little bubble above her head "go to sleep, you little stinker!"  

Po-Nee, the newest Teletubby
 11am  She's finally sleepy!
Inserting the cannula.
Inserting the first cannula.  Dr. Delco says, "This is the portal through which I will pass the laparoscope.  The scope is attached to a camera, and the image is displayed on a screen (positioned directly behind Fiddle- not in any of the pictures.)"    
Fiddle has joined the Borg, at least temporarily.
She described watching this surgery as being about as interesting as watching somebody play video games...the surgeon doesn't look much at the patient, but instead keeps her eyes mostly on the monitor.

Dr. Delco says, "In the picture (above), the left ovary has been ligated and passed over to the right side of the abdomen.  In the left flank, you see the three cannulas (portals) still in place so we maintain insufflation (Aarene in:  "balloonism").  Through one portal, you can see the black instrument--that's the grasping forcep that is holding onto the left ovary.  When the right side is finished, I will make a pass-off:  I grab the left ovary with another forcep from the right side, then let go with the forcep on the left.  That way we keep track of the left ovary and they both come out of one incision on the right side."   

Meanwhile, in the waiting room:
Visiting Fish (and puppy)
 I've never been through a horse's surgical procedure, so I didn't realize how fretful I would be during the process.  Fortunately, my friends from Fish Creek did realize it, so they came to the clinic to keep me company.  Patty brought food.  Dory brought Poppy.
Nothing like some puppy breath to relieve worries!
 12:30pm  Dr. Delco came to the reception area to update us:  surgery was finished, and Fiddle was recovering and still groggy.  They gave her fluids while she was still in the stocks to help with her recovery.  When the sleepy meds wore off and the airplane ears returned to the fully upright and locked position, Fiddle was returned to her stall.

Her fleece cooler as a snugglie, and the muzzle to keep her
from trying to eat before the sedation was fully worn off.
 1:30pm   Mostly awake, and ready to eat!
The vet tech was a little astonished at my horse's enthusiasm for post-surgery food.  I wasn't astonished at all: this mare loves to eat!

She will gradually be returned to regular food, starting with wet Equine Senior and moistened hay through the day and into tomorrow.  She will be watched carefully for signs of colic and discomfort; if she's good to go through the end of tomorrow, they will release her to come home on Saturday morning!

So far, so good.  Thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts and prayers during this process.  I'll update tomorrow -- hopefully with "not much to report!"


  1. She sure looks pretty content in that last picture! And I'm sure with the hormones in check she will be content a lot more in the future. I'm looking forward to hearing about the days and months ahead. The thought of spaying sure crossed my mind this past week but you hear so little about the process. Thank you for sharing!

  2. So glad all went well and sending wishes for a smooth recovery!

  3. Great report! I've always wondered about spaying and why it's not done more often too. I guess cost would be the problem mostly. Laughed at the food enthusiasm at the end. That would be Dressy as well. She always makes me think of the old PacMan game.... gobbling her way through life.

  4. Fantastic, hope all continues to go well. It's so stressful when our "kids" visit the clinic. Keep on keepin' on, Fiddle!

  5. I reposting a link to this post on my vetmed facebook page for my class --> it's an excellent look at the surgery process and I think some of the people in my class might be interested in your comments and observations. :)

  6. Goooo Fiddle! (&& you for making it through without fretting too much!)

  7. interesting procedure - I was nervous just looking at the pictures! Glad the surgery part is over and you can focus on getting her home.

  8. The futon always needs an extra dose of sedative when we do her teeth. Guess it's more about size than sensibilities.
    So glad everything went so well! And that patient--and Mama Pirate--are both doing well.

  9. Glad it went smoothly I was thinking about you all day. :)

  10. Aarene--I know how you felt. I was really a mess while Henry went through colic surgery. Fortunately all was well. And it looks as though Fee will have the same good result. And, of course, her rehab will be much less difficult than the colic surgery rehab. But yeah, it is sometimes the right thing to do, but having a loved horse or human go through major surgery is pretty stressful. Holding good thoughts for a smooth recovery.

  11. I'm so happy she came through the surgery so well! The vets at Pilchuck are AWESOME.



  12. Glad all went well! I hope she heals well and you are back on the trail together soon!

  13. Glad to hear it went smoothly! I hope Fiddle heals well and you are out on the trail together soon!


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